NBA Free Agency 2012: The Best and Worst Moves of the Offseason
The NBA offseason has become a game of its own. The best and worst NBA free-agent moves are defined by how much closer they bring their teams to an NBA championship, in conjunction with the money figures.
Some contracts are shortsighted. Although they look like good signings initially, they can cripple a franchise down the road.
A few of the usual teams were once again active this offseason. The Brooklyn Nets were in the mix and have been looking to make a splash as they move into their brand new building.
Here is a list of the best and worst free-agent moves this offseason:
Worst: Clippers Signing Jamal Crawford
Didn't we hear this same Jamal Crawford story last year?
Sounds like a good signing because Crawford's a big name.
This is nothing personal toward Crawford. He just wasn't that good last year.
Definitely not good enough to warrant a four-year contract.
Crawford shot 38 percent from the field in 2011-12. The last time he shot under 40 percent from the field was in 2004-05.
Maybe the Portland Trail Blazers were just a bad mix for Crawford. The Blazers weren't expected to miss the postseason, but they did. Crawford was supposed to be the replacement to Brandon Roy, but instead he was a painful reminder of how great Roy was.
The Clippers are in win-now mode, so the Crawford signing could end up being a good move this upcoming season.
In three years, the answer may be very different.
Best: Lakers Acquire Steve Nash
The Los Angeles Lakers acquiring Steve Nash is a possible game-changer.
Whenever the Lakers appear landlocked with an unfavorable roster, they always find a way to flip it and make franchise-defining moves.
It happened in 2008 when the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol. It happened once again when they acquired Nash from the Suns as part of a sign-and-trade deal.
Forget about the fact that Nash isn't a great defender. It's not like Ramon Sessions or Derek Fisher were Mr. Lockdown either.
Nash will bring continuity to the Lakers offense—something it lacked a season ago. He will not only make both Gasol and Andrew Bynum better players, but Kobe Bryant as well. With Bryant getting older, the addition of Nash should help him find easier looks at the basket.
Easy buckets for Bryant is bad news for the rest of the Western Conference.
Worst: Rockets Signing Ömer Aşık
Ömer Aşık is what you would call a defensive specialist.
The perfect role player for a team like the Chicago Bulls.
The Houston Rockets have become the masters of overpaying restricted free agents who are most likely role players. They signed Jeremy Lin away from the New York Knicks (although Lin will be a profitable marketing tool for the Rockets even if he doesn't perform).
Then the Rockets signed Aşık away from the Bulls.
On the Rockets, Aşık will be a starter. For a player who played an average of only 14.7 minutes per game last season, that's quite a bit of weight to be thrown on his shoulders.
Aşık's deal with the Rockets is set for three years, $25.1 million. If Aşık had any semblance of an offensive game, this may have been a great deal. Instead, the Rockets will now depend on a center that averaged 3.1 points per game last season and shot 45 percent from the free-throw line.
Best: Timberwolves Signing Brandon Roy
Possibly the most underrated signing of the NBA offseason.
Brandon Roy was not just a good player for the Blazers; he was a great one. Roy was the third-best shooting guard in the league (behind Bryant and Dwyane Wade) and a deadly late-game performer before injuries forced him into early retirement.
Now Roy is back and looking to find his early-career mojo. If the Minnesota Timberwolves can get anything out of Roy, it will be a great addition. The Wolves were a few players away from being a good team last season before Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love went down with injuries.
Along with Roy, the T-Wolves also added Greg Stiemsma, Chase Budinger and Andrei Kirilenko. If Roy is 70 percent of what he used to be, the T-Wolves will be a playoff team in 2012-13.
Worst: Nets Re-Signing Gerald Wallace
Every player on the Brooklyn Nets' starting lineup makes over $10 million per year.
One of those players is Gerald Wallace.
A hardworking small forward who just turned 30, Wallace re-signed with the Nets for four years, $40 million. If Wallace were turning 26, this would be a great signing. But since Wallace relies on his athleticism to be effective, this contract has a good chance to come back and bite the Nets in the rear end.
Wallace is a solid re-addition to the Nets for the upcoming season, but it's unlikely he'll be an effective player throughout his four-year contract. 2011-12 was Wallace's least productive season since 2004-05, his first year with the Charlotte Bobcats.
Not an encouraging sign.
Best: Heat Signing Ray Allen
The rich get richer.
Ray Allen wanted to feel needed again. The Miami Heat let Allen know they needed him.
Allen signed for three years, $9.7 million, turning down the Boston Celtics' two-year, $12 million offer.
Allen is now just another weapon in the Heat's arsenal. Last season, the Celtics could be painful to watch on the offensive end. Allen had to work off many screens to find open jumpers.
On the Heat, there are too many weapons on the floor for Allen not to find open jump shots. He will probably play fewer minutes for the Heat but average close to what he posted for Boston.
Worst: Raptors Signing Landry Fields
Fields is a role player at best. Teams get into trouble when they sign role players for starter's money. Fields doesn't make the Raptors any better: At best, he's a decent seventh or sixth man for the team.
That still wouldn't justify his $20 million contract.
The Raptors made some good offseason moves. Signing Fields for that much money was not one of them.
Best: Celtics Re-Signing Kevin Garnett
The Big Ticket is returning to Boston in what was one of the most underrated moves off the offseason.
If Kevin Garnett had chosen to retire, it would have been detrimental to the Celtics. But as long as Garnett is in the lineup, the Celtics will be dangerous.
Garnett instills pride and toughness in the Celtics, and he gives them a defining personality. They're always mentally tough and play better when the games mean more.
The Celtics will be back next season with Garnett leading the way.
Worst: Nets Re-Sign Brook Lopez
While the Wallace deal was way overpriced, it still was not the Nets' worst decision of the offseason.
That distinction goes to re-signing Brook Lopez to a four-year, $60 million max deal.
The whole "the Nets had to do it" argument is simply not true. The Nets didn't have to re-sign Lopez. They know Dwight Howard is set to be a free agent a year from now. They knew he wanted to go nowhere but Brooklyn.
The Nets could have let Lopez sign with the Charlotte Bobcats and waited a year for Howard.
Instead, the Nets decided to re-sign Lopez in order to be as good as possible for the first season in their new building. The Nets will not win a NBA championship because they re-signed Lopez. Adding Howard is a championship move, and now they don't have the cap space needed to sign him.
Lopez is also not a max-deal player. Sure, he scores a lot, but someone has to on a lottery team like the Nets. Lopez is a below-average rebounder, an aspect that is usually coveted in a max-level center.
The most concerning factor, though, is Lopez's health. He played in only five games last season.
Best: Nets Re-Sign Deron Williams
Despite making two of the worst deals, the Nets salvaged their offseason by convincing superstar Deron Williams to stay with the team.
Williams is a player you can win an NBA championship with as your No. 1 guy.
If Williams had left for Dallas, the Nets would have nothing to show from the trade that sent Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first-round draft picks to the Utah Jazz.
As such, the Nets will keep the face of their franchise as they move to Brooklyn.
With so much offseason action, the Nets are primed to have an interesting first season in Brooklyn, especially after re-signing the best player in the 2012 free-agent class.
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